Sustainability Problem: Increasing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere causes global warming
Areas of Sustainability: Energy, Water, Waste, Safety, Health
Artist’s conception of the Columbia researchers’ artificial trees. Photo credit: Stonehaven Productions Inc.
Technology: Artificial Trees
- In Yale Climate Connections article “Artificial Trees as a Carbon Capture Alternative to Geoengineering,” Richard Schiffman explains the “carbon capture” project of Columbia University Earth Institute scientists Klaus Lackner and Allen Wright. The technology aims to to absorb carbon dioxide using sodium carbonate in the streamers of artificial trees that look like shag rugs and scrub brushes. The researchers would like to make carbon capturing “forests” using artificial trees.
- Each “tree”, approximately as big and with roughly the same production cost as a car, can absorb carbon produced by 36 cars in a day. It will take 10 million of these “trees” to capture 12 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions per year. A gentle flow of water can release carbon dioxide from the artificial trees. Carbon dioxide can then be buried underground or can be used for industrial purposes.
- This technology is not geoengineering. “It does not actively interferes with the dynamics of a system you don’t understand” according to Lackner.
- Artificial tree proved to be one of the first technologies to be able to “remove vehicular carbon emissions from the air”.
- Environmental engineers and scientists
- Accelerated research is needed to find a cost-effective way of purifying carbon dioxide and sequestering it underground.
- In order for this technology to be deployed in a grand scale, further research should be done to make it cost-effective. Urgency on R & D process should be a commitment.
- Policies should give investors very attractive incentives in order to commit to this technology.